Past WGA Junior Champion Adam Wood talks about this weeks Western Amateur Championship that starts Tuesday at the Knollwood Club in Lake Forest. WGAESF.org. _____________________________________________________________________
GOLFERS ON GOLF RADIO standing L-R Mike Munro and Ed Stevenson. Seated Rory Spears and Bill Berger, at WSBC AM 1240 Chicago.
It’s your favorite time of the week golfers, Chicago’s longest running and most informative golf show is back on the tee at 9 Am on Am 1240 WSBC Chicago.
Chicago’s Favorite Foursome Mike Munro, Ed Stevenson, Bill Berger and Rory Spears are ready for another week of golf talk.
We will take a look at the rain-delayed PGA Championship at Baltusrol. Then recap the Illinois Open this past week at Royal Fox and Royal Hawk in St. Charles.
Vince Pellegrino is the WGA SR. VP of Tournaments.
Joining us on the tee first is Western Golf Association Sr. VP of Tournaments Vince Pellegrino.
Pellegrino an Evans Scholars Alum is ready to talk some Western Amateur Championship. This years Western Amateur will be played at the Knollwood Club in Lake Forest.
Defending Champion Dawson Armstrong who won last year at Rich Harvest Farms in Sugar Grove is back to defend his title. A strong field will be at Knollwood to challenge Armstrong, Pellegrino has all the details on the field and everything WGA.
The historic Carolina Hotel at Pinehurst Resort in North Carolina.
Alex Podlogar the social media manager from Pinehurst will join us to talk about Pinehurst our destination of the week.
Pinehurst now has 9 courses, more than any other resort in America.
Pinehurst will host USGA Championships coming up in 2017, 2019, and the U.S. Open returns to course #2 in 2024.
But that’s not all that’s new in Pinehurst, tune in and find out more, and how you too can get to Pinehurst. It is easier than you think. Pinehurst.com for more details.
Pinehurst is offering special rates on certain packages over the Labor Day weekend.
COG HILL is Lemont is having a 2-Day Summer Sale event next weekend, specials inn the pro shop on many brands. Coghillgolf.com.
The Gog Blog by Rory Spears, Editor and Director of Content. Follow Rory on Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter @GogBlogGuy. At Blackwolf Run Golf Club in Kohler Wisconsin.
THE INN ON WOODLAKE is getting an addition starting this fall. The American Club in Kohler still remains a 5 Star Destination. See DestinationKohler.com for more details. _____________________________________________________________________
If there is one thing that Destination Kohler needs besides a new golf course, it’s more rooms for stay when major golf championships come it’s way. The fifth golf course along with Pete Dye is in it’s planning stages, and now Kohler is announcing that the resort is building an addition to it’s second hotel, the Inn on Woodlake starting this fall.
The Village Board of Kohler will vote on the addition, which is expected to be approved in August. Afterwards then there will be a ground breaking ceremony to start the new addition to the Inn.
The Inn on Woodlake is a Three-Diamond property that over looks Wood Lake in Kohler, will start work this fall and it will run into 2017. The addition will add multi-bedroom spaces and some common area rooms. A growing trend in travel and especially golf travel, is to make trips with friends. The new addition will be able to accommodate groups of friends and give them an area to meet without it being in person’s room.
“We are excited to improve and expand Destination Kohler’s hospitality experiences,” said Christine Loose, Group Director of Lodging for Destination Kohler. “The addition to the Woodlake multi-bedroom units will improve and elevate our offering to guests.”
The addition will include 2-bedroom, 4-bedroom and single rooms units. The lobby and atrium area will be expanded as well. The Inn will not be closed during the renovation process.
“When you’re traveling with family or friends you want to spend as much time together as possible,” says Shawn Boeldt, Manager of the Inn on Woodlake. “We have seen a growing trend for the desire for more common spaces, so we are excited to have this offering available for our guests at the Inn on Woodlake. We anticipate groups of golfers, travelers and families enjoying this new lodging option.”
The Inn is just another part of the American Club resort that has been expanded or renovated in the last few years. While the number of rooms was not announced, it’s expected that Kohler Company could even add more rooms on it’s property before the 2020 Ryder Cup matches arrive.
Plenty of time this summer still left to go enjoy Destination Kohler, see Destinationkohler.com for details and more information.
THE KNOLLWOOD CLUB in Lake Forest will host this weeks Western Amateur Championship. Tournament play starts on Tuesday, and concludes on Saturday afternoon August 6th. See WGAESF.org for details. Admission and parking are free. it’s the 100th year for the PGA, watch this weeks PGA Championship live from Baltusrol. ______________________________________________________________________
The Gog Blog, by Rory Spears. Editor and Director of Content. Follow Rory on Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter @GogBlogGuy.
The PGA championship is underway and it’s great week at Baltusrol, this Sunday some player will walk away with the Wanamaker Trophy.
Closer to home the Illinois PGA is hard at work, and spent a day with of it’s senior professionals to award this year’s Sr. Masters award winners.
The IPGA was pleased to announce that Phil Benson from the Itasca Country Club, and Bob Koschmann of the Lake Shore Country Club were this years winners.
Both professionals were honored in front of their peers at the Onwentsia Club in Lake Forest on July 18th.
Phil Benson started playing golf at age 3 when his father first put a club in his hands. Now Benson has spent some 40 years as the head golf professional at Itasca. He says much of his job hasn’t changed in the time he has been at the club, and he is proud of the list of many great assistants he has had over the years.
Benson had a great run in IPGA tournament play in his earlier years, now he doesn’t get to play as much as he wants to, but Itasca and it’s members keep him busy. So do his grandkid’s, where one would think have had clubs in their hands since about age 3.
BOB KOSCHMANN grew up in Indianapolis and his father got him started in golf at age 6. Koschmann lived next door to an area country club, but his family were not members. So Koschmann would wait til around sunset and sneak out on the course, and would play as long as he could until the head professional would run him off.
One night, the pro got smart and had the local police waiting for Koschmann at all of his escape routes from the club. After being taken to the pro shop, the pro gave him a job instead of a chewing out.
After playing college golf at Ball State university and playing three NCAA Championships and finishing in the top 15 twice, he started to caddie for tour pro Jim Jameson. From Jameson he learned about an assistant professional job at Lake Shore Country Club. After two years there, he moved over to North Shore Country Club, until the head professional job at Lake Shore opened up.
Koschmann went back and applied for the job, not only did he get the job, but has been there ever since with 2016 making it 40 years on the job. Koschmann has put the love of golf into his son’s life, and he now works for Ping Golf.
Koschmann will retire at the end of the year and move down to Scottsdale Arizona, where he is looking to enjoy all of hobbies that include and more.
Phil Benson and Bob Koschmann your 2016 IPGA Sr. Masters award winners.
Jerry Rich welcomes Illinois Women’s Open Champion Stephanie Miller to Rich Harvest Farms, site of the NCAA Men’s and Woman’s 2017 National Championship. Former Western Junior Champion Adam Wood, speaks about next weeks Western Amateur at The Knollwood Club in Lake Forest starting on Tuesday. WGAESF.org. _____________________________________________________________________
THE GOG BLOG by Rory Spears. Editor and Director of Content. Follow Rory on Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter @GogBlogGuy and his reports from the 67th Illinois Open at Royal Fox Country Club in St. Charles.
Carlos Sainz Jr. the 2016 Illinois Open Champion, with the trophy at the Royal Fox Country Club in St. Charles
The 67th Illinois Open has crowned Carlos Sainz. Jr. of Elgin the new Illinois Open Champion.
Nick Hardy of Northbrook who won the Illinois State Amateur last week at St. Charles Country Club, finished fourth, but was the Low-Amateur in the Open.
Sainz shot rounds of 67-65-65 for a 54 hole total of 197, that allowed him to win by five shots over Christian Heavens of Fairview Heights.
2014 Illinois Open Champion Brad Hopfinger was third seven shots back. Mistwood Golf Club’s Director of Golf, Andy Mickelson headed up a group tied for fifth place. Past champions Eric Meierdierks was 8th, and Illinois Golf Coach Mike Small was tied for ninth. Defending champion David Cooke, tied for 29th.
Small had the distinction of playing round 3 with one of his future recruits to Illinois Tommy Kuhl, who has already declared an intention to attend the University of Illinois. Per NCAA rules Small was not allowed to talk about Kuhl. Kuhl ended up tied for 9th with Small.
In his post round press conference Sainz said, “several players made a run at me and didn’t make it easy on me.” After having a six shot lead early, Sainz right before the turn saw that lead shrink to three. But shortly after the turn is was back up six shots and Sainz was able to put things back on cruise control coming in. He ended up winning by five shots.
Click here to hear interviews with Illinois Open Champion Carlos Sainz, and low amateur for the championship Nick Hardy.
Hardy who made every putt last week in winning the Illinois State Amateur Championship with a score of 28 under par, called the Royal Fox and Royal Hawk greens a little different than the nearby St. Charles Country Club. Hardy said he just couldn’t get his putts to fall this week. Hardy is looking forward to next weeks Western Amateur at the Knollwood Club in lake Forest.
Hardy and Cooke will both play in the U.S. Amateur Championship coming up in three weeks at Oakland Hills.
Dates for the 2017 Illinois Open and the site of the championship are still to be determined. The next major championship on the Illinois PGA Circuit is the section championship which will be played at Olympia Fields in August.
THE HISTORIC CAROLINA HOTEL IN PINEHURST part of the Pinehurst Resort, haven’t been there, listen in Sunday morning when Alex Podlogar of Pinehurst joins Golfers on Golf Radio LIVE from Pinehurst, and visit Pinehurst.com. This week the PGA Championship tee’s off from Baltusrol, but if your ready to challenge a PGA course, last years venue Whistling Straits in Wisconsin is ready for you. See DestinationKohler.com. ______________________________________________________________________
THE GOG BLOG by Rory Spears. Editor and Director of Content. Follow Rory from the Illinois Open at Royal Fox and on Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter @GogBlogGuy.
It should be a great day, the sun will be out and there is no rain in the forecast. It might be a bit warm, but in a few months golfers will wish for days like today.
Round 2 of the Men’s Illinois Open will be on the courses of Royal Fox and Royal Hawk, players like Northbrook’s Nick Hardy will be looking to win “The Open” a week after winning the state amateur.
After attending Round 1 yesterday, I’ll be back for the final round tomorrow at Royal Fox. It should be good one. In between rounds 1 & 3, I’ll be taking a break and hitting the golf course myself. Spending a day at Rich Harvest Farms (RHF) in Sugar Grove as owner Jerry Rich begins to roll out what May of 2017 will be like, when the Men’s and Woman’s NCAA Championships come to town at RHF.
The first green at Rich Harvest Farms in Sugar Grove, home of the 2017 NCAA Championships.
What today should have been, was the day the International Crown was getting rolled up and put away after a successful week for golf, women’s golf, and the the Chicago golf fans at Rich Harvest Farms.
But in spite of a nice Team USA win in the UL Crown, in Libertyville at the Merit Club, we are all left to think about what could have been.
The LPGA and the Rich family had a split last fall. Then after some three years of planning on how big this years crown would be, there was a late venue change in this major LPGA flagship event. After the change, the LPGA never treated this year’s Crown like it was a big flagship event for women’s golf. It never did get promoted correctly, there was no sign of of any Team USA players in town, and serious golf fans were still asking even last week, when was that women’s golf event coming to Rich Harvest Farms this summer.
Jerry Rich wasted no time starting the promotion for last weeks Crown, his staff was putting up a billboard in cold January weather 3 years ago, letting the fans know the Crown was coming.
My visit to last weeks Crown saw small crowds, and no big on course presence of tents and other things that gave it the feel of a major international golf event. Instead it seemed like a small regular tour stop.
There wasn’t a large crowd of young ladies that could be the LPGA players of tomorrow roaming the grounds. There were not large galleries of energized fans of decent from the countries in the field.
It wasn’t a week of special events during the day, and a party like atmosphere around the town at night. There was just no buzz at all. It was the kind of thud or dud, that should make UL wonder, just what they got themselves into. Taking the Crown to Korea in 2018 should be better for the event, of course you knew it was going to Korea. The LPGA couldn’t stop telling anyyone who would listen that they were going Korea in 2018. Korea 2018 was the theme even before there was a tee in the ground at the Merit Club, which by the way is located in Libertyville, the LPGA still thinks the Merit Club is located in nearby Gurnee.
What could have been. Jerry Rich (L) and LPGA Commissioner Michael Whan (R) at Caves Valley CC, home of the 2014 International Crown
In 2014 when I attended the Crown at Caves Valley, it seemed like this new event had a good launching pad. I expected 2016 to be much better, it just wasn’t.
Rich’s efforts to raise the event, an event he helped create to another level, just didn’t get the support those efforts should have had from LPGA Commissioner Michael Whan and the LPGA.
For all the good Whan does for the LPGA, it became apparent there is still much more for him to do. Which includes being a little more visible in Chicago before his flagship events come to town.
Last week the LPGA announced the golf course in Korea they will play the Crown at in 2018. It will be the same Jack Nicklaus course that was used last year for the Presidents Cup, not something new that could have given golf fans from around the world another look into the booming world of golf in Korea.
What’s still up in the air, is 2020. UL is still the sponsor and just under four years away nobody know’s where the Crown is going, think about that for a minute.
The UL International Crown was supposed to be the launching pad of four great women’s golf events in the Chicago area over a three year span. Next up is the KPMG/PGA/LPGA Championship in 2017 at Olympia Fields Country Club, the same event travels north to Kemper Lakes in June of 2018. One month later the USGA comes to town with the inaugural U.S. Sr. Women’s Open at the historic Chicago Golf Club.
After what we saw last week, and what we didn’t see in the month’s leading up to the Crown. The LPGA needs a mulligan. RS
THE WESTERN AMATEUR AUGUST 1-6 AT THE KNOLLWOOD CLUB in Lake Forest, defending champion Dawson Armstrong is back in the field see WGAESF.com for more details. Duncan Finigan shows off the most comfortable footwear in golf OOFOS. Recovery Footwear great for golfers who like to walk or caddies. OOFOS.com. ______________________________________________________________________
THE GOG BLOG by Rory Spears. Editor and Director of Content. Follow Rory on Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter @GogBlogGuy. With the Fox at Royal Fox CC. Illinois Open is underway.
The 67th Illinois Open has returned to the Royal Fox Country Club in St. Charles, with nearby Royal Hawk Golf Course serving as the second course.
Christian Heavens playing Royal Hawk shot a 6 under par 66, and is tied for the lead with Brian Carroll they hold a 1 shot lead over several players.
Defending champion David Cooke, still playing as an amateur shot 1 under par 71 in the first round of his defense.
Nick Hardy (a) who was red hot in his win last week at the Illinois State Amateur at St. Charles, is one shot back after an opening round of 65 at Royal Hawk. In fact the top of the leader board mostly has players from Royal Hawk where par is 72. The par at Royal Fox just to make things a little more confusing is 71. But in the end it all evens out.
At 5 under par is Brandon Holtz of Bloomington, and Andy Mickleson the Director of Golf at Mistwood GC. Past champion and university of Illinois Golf Coach Mike Small was at 2 under par. Carlos Sainz jr. of Elgin was a shot back at 5 under par, Sainz lost the 2013 Illinois Open in a playoff, and won the now defunct Chicago Open at Cantigny.
“My round was pretty solid even though I bogeyed the first hole,” said Mickelson. “I was playing with Carlos (Sainz) and Raymond (Knoll) and with them you need to pull your boot straps up right away and play better. I got some great breaks on the back nine. I hit it close on 10, and was able to make eagle there.”
Mickelson said he found something in his swing about three weeks ago, and he has been riding the momentum ever since. That included a win during an IPGA event at Bowes Creek in Elgin.
Carroll had a home game for round 1, playing Royal Hawk where he works as the head professional.
” I have only played the course two times this year,” said Carroll. “I fact when I got here today, I spent the morning making sure everything was running okay. But then I made birdie on the first hole which I don’t normally do here, a seven-iron to 12 feet and made that and it got me rolling. I know with this course you have to score early and then hang on a little on back nine.”
Brad Hopfinger the 2014 champion at the Glen Club was two shots back at 4 under par.
Royal Hawk headed into the championship was expected to yield the lower scores of the two courses. Zach Burry an amateur from Quincy, carded the low round at Royal Fox a 2 under par 69.
The field this year is 258 players, that size field started last year. The field has had 14 WD’s or DNS on day one.
McWethy’s Tavern located inside of the new Mistwood Golf Course Clubhouse, fine dining and fine golf all rolled into one. See Mistwoodgc.com or call (815)-254-3333. If your on the clock, why not speed up your game and play Arlington Lakes Golf Club now open from renovation. 3-6-9-18 hole Loops available call (847)-577-3030 or AHPD.org. _____________________________________________________________________
THE GOG BLOG, by Rory Spears. Editor and Director of Content. Follow Rory on Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter @GogBlogGuy. At WBSC AM 1240.
Golfers on Golf Radio returns for another week this morning at 9 AM on AM 1240 WSBC.
Your hosts “Chicago’s Favorite Foursome” Mike Munro, Ed Stevenson, Bill Berger and Rory Spears invite you for an hour of golf talk with a Chicago flavor to it.
This week we will recap the Illinois Women’s Open at Mistwood, and the Illinois State Amateur that was played at St. Charles Country Club.
Coming up in the week ahead is the Men’s Illinois Open being held this year at the Royal Fox Country Club and the Royal Hawk Golf Club in St. Charles. David Cooke the defending champion is back in the field to defend his title.
Carrie Williams IPGA
Carrie Williams the Illinois PGA Executive Director joins us at 9:10 to talk about the championship that runs tomorrow through Wednesday.
Michael Chupka is our second guest, he is the Director of Communications at Bandon Dunes in Oregon. Bandon Dunes located on the Pacific Ocean in Oregon is owned by Chicago businessman Mike Keiser.
It is home to five golf courses, four of them are a full 18 holes, and one is a par 3 course that plays 13 holes. Mike Keiser is now developing a similar property in Wisconsin called Sand Valley. More on that in the show.
BREAKING GOLF NEWS…Indian Lakes Resort has announced the closing of it’s golf courses at the end of the year, Golfers on Golf has learned. Libertyville based architect Rick Jacobson did the most recent renovation there over 10 years ago. The resort has 27 holes, down from the original 36.
UL CROWN NEWS..the 2018 UL Crown will be played in Korea, that has been known for some time. Now the course has been announced that will be the host site. The Jack Nicklaus Golf Club in the Songdo International Business District will get the honor. The club hosted the 2015 Presidents Cup for the men. See ULCrown.com for more details.
TEAM EUROPE CAPTAIN Annika Sorenstam has announced that her good friend and former member of Team Europe Catriona Matthew, will join Sorestam on the team in the role of Vice-Captain. Provided she does not make the team. The 2017 Solheim Cup will played in Des Moines Iowa.
UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS GOLFERS and recent graduates Alex Burge and Charlie Danielson, have been named Cleveland/Srixon All-American Academic Scholars. They were two of the 212 athletes to receive the award given to Juniors or Senior who have played sports for at least three years.
TURNBERRY GOLF CLUB has been sold by Links Capital Advisers and Chris Charnas. More details as we get them.
THE ILLINOIS OPEN tee’s off tomorrow at Royal Fox and Royal Hawk in St. Charles, defending champion David Cooke is in the field as an amateur.
NEMACOLIN WOODLANDS RESORT One Pete Course open for play, another Pete Dye 18 on the way, See Nemacolin.com. McWethy’s Tavern located inside the new Mistwood Golf Club clubhouse, first class dining at a golf location. Mistwoodgc.com. ______________________________________________________________________
THE GOG BLOG by Rory Spears part of Golfers on Golf, Editor and Director of Content. Follow Rory on Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter @GogBlogGuy. At Glen Dornach GC in Myrtle Beach.
Dennis Johnsen the General Manager and PGA Head Professional at the Pine Meadow Golf Club in Mundelein, is being awarded a 2016 PGA of America, Youth Development Award.
The award is an honor that promotes a golf professional that has made an outstanding contribution in developing youth or junior golfers.
Johnsen is a Illinois PGA Section member, past president and PGA member for over 40 years.
Johnsen is a member of the PGA of America’s Youth Player Development Committee. Johnsen is also the chairman of the Illinois Player Development Sub-Committee for the PGA Junior Golf League.
He will receive his award on Wednesday Nov. 9th at the 100th PGA Annual Meeting in New York City.
Under Johnsen’s direction the Pine Meadow Golf Club continues to not only grow junior golf, but expand and develop the facility.
The course conditioning at Pine Meadow has improved under Johnsen’s direction. The pro shop and grill area are constantly rated among the best in Chicago area public golf courses.
Pine Meadow is the only public course in the Chicago area, that still has golf holes created by the famous golf architect William S. Flynn.
The Illinois PGA and Executive Director Carrie Williams have publicly recognized Johnsen for receiving the award. For more information on the Illinois PGA please visit IPGA.com and for more information about Pine Meadow Golf Club operated by Jemsek Golf, see Pinemeadowgc.com or call (847)-566-GOLF.
DUPAGE GOLF is in full swing for the summer, even with Oak Meadows closed for renovation, both Maple Meadows and Green Meadows are open for play. For rates specials and more see DuPagegolf.com. The Mt. Prospect Golf Club is closing in on it’s 1st Anniversary since the completion of the renovation. See MPPD.org for tee times. _____________________________________________________________________
THE GOG BLOG by Rory Spears. Editor and Director of Content. Follow Rory on Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter @GogBlogGuy. At Erin Hills home of the 2017 US Open.
The only thing hotter than the temperature at the Illinois State Amateur Championship, was Northbrook’s Nick Hardy who won the tournament by a whopping 10 shots.
During the 36 hole final, Hardy shot 64-65 and was 15 under par in one days total. Hardy ended up 28 under par for the tournament.
Hardy had opened his first two rounds with scores of 65-66, on the par 72 St. Charles Country Club layout.
His tournament score of 260, beat the tournament record of 270, set in 1971 by Bob Zender. Hardy’s score was the best score in relation to par, breaking the record set by Jerry Haas of 13 under par in 1984. Hardy’s third round 64, gave him a 4 shot lead headed into the final round. The only victory larger than Hardy’s, was by Rob Grube in 2006 when he won by 11 shots.
Nick Hardy in 2015, in the pro shop at Valley-Lo.
“Going into the final round, I didn’t care if I won by 10. I just wanted to win,” said Hardy. “I kept battling out there all day and it just happened to be 10 shots. It means a lot to me.”
Wheaton’s Tee-K Kelly the defending champion came in second with a score of 18 under par. Charlie Netzel of Western Springs and 36 hole leader Brian Ohr of Northbrook tied for third at 17 under par.
” If someone told me on Monday I would shoot 18 under par for the tournament, I would have thought I would win again,” said Kelly. “But sometimes someone just brings their game and you can’t beat it.”
” It was nice to finally get the monkey off my back and win this tournament,” said Hardy. “I have been really close to winning the last few years. This year I had my best stuff.”
For the week the two-time participant in the U.S. Open had 32 birdies and just 4 bogeys. None of those bogeys came in the final 31 holes.
The low 20 finishers in the championship have earned exemptions into next years, 87th Illinois Amateur Championship in 2017 at Calumet Country Club. The CDGA schedule continues August 1-4 with the inaugural CDGA Amateur Four-Ball Championship at Eagle Brook Country Club in Geneva.
THE 22ND PHIL KOSIN ILLINOIS WOMEN’S OPEN AT MISTWOOD. (M) Greg Kosin brother of the late Phil Kosin with 2016 IWO Champion Stephanie Miller of Elgin. The Mistwood Golf Club on Renwick Road is 18 holes, a golf performance center, and a new clubhouse that includes McWethy’s Tavern. Mistwoodgc.com or call (815)-254-3333. _____________________________________________________________________
THE GOG BLOG part of Golfers on Golf by Rory Spears, Editor and Director of Content. Follow Rory on Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter @GogBlogGuy. With the Sand Valley logo’d hat, and the Typhoon Model Jacket by Sunice Golfwear.
The 22nd Illinois Women’s Open is in the books, and there is another first time champion.
Elgin’s Stephanie Miller, a member of the University of Illinois Women’s golf team is holding the Phil Kosin Trophy.
Since Miller is an amateur, the first place professional check of $5,000 went to Embur Schuldt a U of I alum from Sterling Illinois.
But the day and the championship belonged to Miller, who never wavered and put together three great rounds of 69-69-69 for a score of 207 that won by three shots over Kelly Grassel, from Chesterton Indiana. Miller made only one bogey in 54 holes and that was on hole 53, on the par 3, 17th where by then the championship was in hand.
2016 Illinois Women’s Open Champion Stephanie Miller with the Phil Kosin trophy on the Mistwood bridge.
For Miller, the victory marked the end of five years of trying to win the IWO.
Miller burst on the Mistwood scene while she was still playing high school golf at Stevenson High School, where she won the IHSA girls state title in both her Sophomore and Senior years.
During her first year at the IWO, she raced to lead and held it after both round 1 and 2. But in the final 18 holes of playing in the last group, she shot 80 and watched Tulane University golfer Samantha Troyanovich win the championship in a playoff.
When Miller returned in 2013 some thought it could be her time, and she would make up for the one that got away. Instead she struggled to make the cut and barely got to play the last 18 holes. 2014 and 2015 were better efforts, but Miller was still not contending like she did in 2012.
Miller and Schuldt after the 2015 IWO, knowing that 2016 would be a better year.
This year Miller put the clubs down for several days leading up to the IWO, and spent time in both Hawaii and Alaska over the summer. From a mental standpoint she was refreshed and ready, headed into Mistwood.
Having a good round has not been a problem for Miller, stringing them together for three or four days has been. This time with her dad Alan on the bag, she found the consistency needed to win
This time after only some minor practice, Miller came to Mistwood with no expectations, and came away with a trophy, and 1 year membership to the club for winning the title. Miller plans to return in 2017 and defend her title.
The key was three early birdies on holes 5-6-7, and a near miss for a fourth one on the 8th hole. That allowed her to pull ahead of her playing partner Brooke Ferrell a senior on the University of Wisconsin’s golf team where she will be a senior this fall. But Ferrell didn’t quit, fighting back to get within one shot of Miller after a birdie on the 13th hole.
After both players parred the par 3, 14th hole to start the run around Kelpie’s Corner (holes 14-17 at Mistwood), Ferrell with the honor drove her ball in the water, after her second tee shot found the left rough. Ferrell now hitting four, then blasted a wood over the bushes and out of bounds. Ferrell made a quad bogey nine and when Miller made her par 5, the lead was 5 shots with three holes to play.
Miller then made birdie from 15 feet on the par 4, 16th hole. When Ferrell could only par the hole, she trailed by 6 shots with two holes to play. At that point Grassel jumped into second place, only four shots back of Miller. Ferrell got 1 shot back on 17 when Miller bogeyed the par 3 hole, but it was too late as both players parred 18. Grassel could only par 18, and not put any added pressure on Miller.
The par 5, third hole at Mistwood, is a half island green.
Five players broke par for the championship, including Ferrell and Northwestern University’s Hanna Kim tied for third place at 2 under par. Schuldt was alone in fifth place, while Miller’s teammate at Illinois Bing Singhsumalee was 6th at even par.
The only past champion in the field Wheaton’s Jeana Pearson was 7th after a final round 73 left her at 218 and two over for the tournament. Pearson received 2nd place professional money.
Click here to hear interviews with Illinois Women’s Open Champion Stephanie Miller and Brooke Ferrell.
32 players did make the cut and played in the final round. Greg Kosin brother of the late Phil Kosin who founded the championship, made the trophy presentation to Miller and spoke on behalf of the Kosin family. At the dinner after Sunday’s pro-am, six $1,000 scholarships were handed out.
The 23rd IWO Championship will be played at Mistwood in July of 2017. For information see the Mistwoodgc.com website for details.